Creating a culture of integrity is probably the single most important way of proactively curbing criminal and unethical activities in the workplace, however it is not something to be achieved overnight, which is probably why so many companies overlook this essential risk management element in the age of instant gratification.
Like all truly valuable things in life, creating a culture of integrity and instilling an ethos of virtue in the day to day interpersonal interactions between staff members and clients alike requires commitment, and the resolve to implement the necessary changes from the ground up. Make no mistake, a culture of integrity is a long-term investment, and since the end goal is to achieve worthwhile returns on your investment it should be planned prudently and implemented effectively.
Laying down the proper foundation
Staff members can be a company’s greatest asset or their greatest hindrance. Their skills, behaviour, personality and experiences will inevitably impact the business on innumerable levels which in turn will play a significant role on the performance of the business as a whole. It is for this reason that one of the most important decisions a business leader will ever make, is who he accepts into his team.
Currently there are a variety of different companies and products assisting business leaders in selecting staff members, carefully scrutinizing their business history and relevant knowledge; gathered through education and experience, to ultimately choose their champion. What is somewhat concerning is the amount of information provided by the applicants themselves used in the decision-making process, and the inability to effectively verify that information. Considering the competitive nature of the South African labour market, it is unfortunately not uncommon for applicants to embellish or completely fabricate their qualifications and achievements. Let us not forget the fact that criminals or syndicates rarely indicate that fact it on the company application checklist.
A proper pre-employment screening procedure is to date the most effective and reliable means of validating the information given by the examinee while monitoring for any possible activities or behaviour in their past which could indicate a possible risk for your company. There are quite a few different tools that could be used to ascertain this information: including background verifications, pre-employment polygraph examinations as well as psychometric assessments, and these tools can be used on individual basis or combined to create an extremely effective risk prevention barrier.
These tools serve to give employers the right information at the right time, so that they can make the right decisions for their business. Furthermore, having applicants experience a rigorous vetting process sends a signal to the applicants that the company is serious about its staff, including their safety, expectations from them and in essence their future. The best returns come from the greatest investments, and investing in the staff of a company can yield incredible long term returns.
Nurturing a culture of integrity
Once the proper foundation has been put in place it is important to continue to foster a culture of honesty and integrity. Humans are not static, they continue to grow, to learn and to be affected by their experiences and surroundings. To ensure that staff members grow to the benefit of the company it is important to provide the proper motivation and to continuously send the right messages.
To this end a continuous integrity management program is an essential tool in monitoring for criminal and unethical activities and to actively promote a culture of integrity. As an added bonus, a well-established integrity management program serves as a long-term deterrent, giving any would-be criminal a reason to rethink any criminal activities at the workplace.
Deterrence however is only a single cog in the integrity management process. The power of positive reinforcement should not be underestimated, and integrity management programs properly implemented sends the message to the staff members that their honesty and ethics in the workplace are recognized by their employers.
Return on investment
Calculating the exact amount a company would save by implementing proper and prudent risk management programs is almost impossible, but the return on investment is well recognized. Health insurance companies actively promote and facilitate healthy lifestyles, and this is because they acknowledge that prevention is better than cure. We tend to agree.
Staff members are part and parcel of the entire operation of a company. Everything is in one way or another monitored or controlled by a human. We implement security cameras, but do you know who is the person responsible for maintaining and monitoring that system? What about the gatekeeper, the loyal person that you trust with the safety and security of your staff members and your possessions? Do you know who you appointed to manage and safeguard your fiscal-breaking portfolio? Who did you trust to look after your client’s account? Who did you really send to complete the work at your client’s premises?
If you can’t answer those questions truthfully, perhaps we can.
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